My first visit to this place was in the early 1960s and I liked it.
This new visit was disapointing and will probably be my last visit to what became the most touristy place of Paris.
The terraces of the restaurants have invaded in a few decennia the place du Tertre what was not the case on my first visit. The price of 6€ for a cappuccino is probably not far from the price at Palaces Georges V or Crillon in the centre.
I think that what tourists like here is the striking contrast between the village look of the Butte Montmartre and the very architecturally (Haussmann) organized spaces of the centre.
Presently this "aspect villageois" is amplified by the sightseeing and commercial function of the Place du Tertre. A positive point is the fact that the houses are maintained in a good state what is not the case in ordinary French villages.
Montmartre was a little village on the outskirts of the city of Paris until it was discovered by artists in the nineteenth century.
Montmartre is one of the few hills in Paris, and the views from the church square are magnificent. In fact, next to the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur is the second highest point in Paris.
Montmartre still retains its village qualities. Old houses jostle together in its narrow lanes.
In the 19th century, artists liked the quality of light on this hill, out of the smoke, grime and noise ofthe centre of Paris. Many famous painters lived and worked here, Van Gogh, Lautrec, Seurat, Monet etc.
It is still the haunt of artists but today these are painters who provide the tourist market with souvenirs. The Place du Tertre at the foot of the hill comes to life with artists' easels during the afternoons. It is also reputed to be the place in Paris where you are most likely to have your pocket picked .... so be careful when you visit!
The streets surrounding Sacré Coeur and Montmartre come to life in the evening. The police presence keeps a watchful eye
From all around Paris you can see Sacre Coeur sitting high on the hill of Montmartre . It is located in the North of Paris, 129 meters above sea level (200 meters from the Dome). The style of both the interior and exterior is Romano-Byzantine. The laying of the foundation stone began in 1875.
The Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) Basilica (place of pilgrimage) is a really beautiful building. The metro stop for SC is about a 15 minute walk to the church. It is in a really charming area and the walk was very refreshing. The funicular to the church was out of order so we had to climb the 200 steps to the top. From outside the Basilica you could see over all of Paris.
The inside of the church was nice enough with many separate altars but I really thought it was the outside design/architecture that was special. One thing I liked very much about this church was that it was not for tourists in that no photos were allowed and you had to be quiet while walking around. In front of every altar you had an opportunity to light a candle, which I did. Please remember to make a donation since these donations help maintain the church.
The Basilica is open every day from 6am to 11pm ( for visits, the last entries are around 10.15pm).
You can climb up the dome to have a fanstastic view of Paris: 9.00am to 7pm (6pm in winter). It is also possible to visit the crypt (same times).
Times of Service:
Friday: Eucharist: 11h15 - 18h 30 - 22h - 15h
Saturday : 22h Anticipated Sunday Mass
Sunday: Eucharist : 11h (Solemn Mass) - 18h - 22h
16h Vespers-Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
Although all visitor information was correct as of this writing, check mass schedule if you'd like to attend.
This substantial church is visible from most of Paris, gleaming white in sunlight. It is very much a matter of personal taste how you feel about its appearance, its beauty or lack thereof has been a matter of debate since it was built on the former site of the artillery batteries of Montmartre. See also my tip on the historic marker. To quote Wikipedia, it also …. was controversial in that it was built “to expiate the crimes of the Communards,” as some people at the time put it. It was also seen as a memorial to the many French citizens who lost their lives in the Paris Commune and the Franco-Prussian War.
Whatever its history or what you feel about its beauty, there is no argument that it is a spectacular sight and that the views from here are excellent. A visit ties in well with a walk through Montmartre.
With its 130 meters, the Butte Montmartre, crowned by the Sacre Coeur, is the highest Paris' "summit".
There are two different stories about the name "Montmatre" origin : the official one beeing 'Mont de Mercure', but, a 13th century legend states that it comes from 'Mont des Martyrs' and refers to those, who, with Saint Denis (the first Paris' bishop), were killed here for their faith in the 3th century.
From the 12th century to the Revoution (1789) Montmartre housed an important and powerfull benedictine Abbaye.
In 1790, Montmartre was divided in two (uphill and downhill). While the downhill part was quite imediately re-included in Paris, the uphill one grew as a prosperous village until the 19th century and kept some independance, even after being attached to Paris in 1860 (and took an important part in the 'Commune' revolution in 1871).
This independant status appealed to artists, especially painters (like Vernet, Géricault, Corot, Pissarro, Renoir, Van Gogh, Utrillo, Picasso, ....) who moved to the Butte Montmartre during all the 19th century and the begining of the 20th.
Since then, if the area has lost its favour among the artists (in the 50's to Saint Germain des Pres (wich has now become a strictly touristy place too)) it has earned a lot among the tourists, especially after the film 'Amelie' (french title : Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain) came out.
It's a working class, cosmopolitan, colourfull, ever crowded and lively area dominated by 'artists' (and souvenir shops) place du Tertre, cafes everywhere, and fabric and (cheap) clothes stores.
This white basilica is located on a steep hill overlooking the city and it’s nearly as much a symbol of Paris as the Eiffel Tower It is a Roman Catholic basilica and dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was built on Montmartre from 1876 to 1912 by public subscription as a gesture of expiation after the defeat of 1871 in the Franco-Prussian War. It's a steep uphill climb up a long series of steps to the front door of the church, but it is something you a must-see. You will also have a amazing view of Paris. If you don't care to do all the climbing, you can part with a metro ticket and take the Funiculaire de Montmartre, which is located at the base of the hill on your left as you face Sacre Coeur from the front.
This basilica sits on hill that can be viewed most of Paris’ other monuments. It’s very Byzantine (although referred to as Neo-Romanesque) in style with its elongated white domes. The white stone called Chateau-Landon whitens with age, thus making it more beautiful as time goes on. If you look at my Intro picture, taken from the top of Notre Dame, you can see the Basilica dazzling white on the distant hill of Montmartre. It has a 19-ton bell that can be heard for some distance. The statues you see on it’s facade are the bronze equestrian statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Louis with a statue of Christ with his hands raised in blessing. The interior is beautifully decorated with mosaics and a lovely figure of the Virgin and Child. It’s built on the site where Saint Denis was beheaded in the 3rd. Century. Like many of the other Christian sites, druids worshiped on this very spot and a site for early Christian churches. The St. Pierre de Montmartre, a 6th century Parisian church, still sits next to the Basilica. The Sacre Coeur was started in 1875, but wasn’t consecrated until after WWI in 1914.The Basilica is an important place for pilgrimages and welcomed by the Benedictine nuns of the Sacred Heart.
Although the Sacre Coeur isn’t considered architecturally beautiful, it’s a very imposing and important landmark of Paris.
Metro line 2 or 12 : Abbesses (then
take hill tram), Anvers (then take hill tram), Barbes-Rochechouart, Chateau-Rouge, Lamarck-Caulaincourt.
Bus: 30, 31, 80, 85 and Montmartrobus
(from Métro Jules Joffrin or Pigalle)
Basilica open from 6am to 11pm
Dôme : open from 9ham to 5h30pm (7pm in summer)
Free for the basilica.
Dome: 5 euros
This beautiful white church on the Right Bank called “Sacre Coeur” is on a hill overlooking the city of Paris – it’s several steps going up and along the way, you do see a lot of people and artists (playing violin, trumpet…). Yes, listen to the music as you climb up...adds to the ambiance...
We went to this magnificent basilica in Montmartre (built 1876-1919, Byzantine-Romanesque) by riding the Metro : To the Anvers or Abbeses stop – the entrance has the fabulous Art Nouveau METRO sign. Then we decided to walk up the hill (actually we had no choice because the funicular was not working at the time). And it was not hard at all – remember we even had our 3 year old twins with us!
After this, you can head off to the place du tertre where Van Gogh used to live! You can probably get some souvenirs, but some are overpriced. But we were able to find a reasonably priced statue of Virgin of Notre Dame tucked away in one of the upper cabinets… Also, stay away from the artists who charge highly to sketch your portrait (sorry, artists, but I have to warn my fellow travelers…).
And finally, beware of pickpockets at Montmartre.
But the views are just magnificent and our best pictures came from this site! Thank you Sacre Coeur!
Montmartre is a hill which is 130 metres high, and also the name of the surrounding district, in the north of Paris.All around you will see picturesque Montmartre neighborhood that you can enter on a narrow street just outside the entrance to the crypt below Sacre Coeur. Here you will find shops, restaurants, and lot of artist selling their work in street market and lot of street performers and dozens of portrait artists. Be careful becuase of crowds and constatnt diversions of your attention would probably make it a great place to have your pockets picked.
On XIX and XX century, Montmartre were the best place for painting, with a lot of famous painters as Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Steinlen, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Picasso
You see Sacre Coeur perched on its hill from nearly every vantage point in Paris so at some point, you just have to see what it's all about.
Take the Metro to the Anvers station and exit. After you exit the Metro, look around and find the street with the very unlikely name of rue de Steinkerque. Walk up the hill on Steinkerque to Place St. Pierre where you are likely to find a carousel set up for the children.
Looming above you is the snow-white Basilique Sacre Coeur. You may walk up the steps with lots of company or use your Metro tickets (or Pass) to take the funicular to the top. The views of Paris from the top are nothing short of spectacular and it's worth the trip just for that if the day is reasonably clear.
You can visit the basilique. There is no photography allowed inside which is just as well since it is quite dark (and gloomy) inside.
Leave Sacre Coeur and walk over to Place de Tertre where the action is. There is the lovely little church of St. Pierre that is definitely worth a visit, if only to admire the magnificent carved doors. This is a Paris treasure not many visit and it is truly lovely.
The Place du Tertre is where the artists exhibit and try to draw your caricature or paint your portrait. It will be crowded and busy. If you want a fun souvenir, have your picture drawn or pick up an inexpensive oil painting from the many. It's more fun than a post card even if it isn't great art. Occasionally you will see a quite nice oil and if it reminds you of your trip to Paris, it is your investment in memory if not a museum piece.
There are many cafes in the area and if you walk a block or two the prices will go down dramatically. There is also a little tourist train that takes you around Montmartre that leaves from the Place de Tertre. It's a fun way to get the lay of the land and rest your weary feet.
Due to its location, atop Montmartre, the beautiful white silhouette of the church can be seen from almost all the places in Paris and is also offering a magnificent view over the town.
The building of the Romano-Byzantine church lasted 38 years and was consecrated to the Sacred Heart in 1919.
Sacre-Coeur is 100m long and 50m wide, while the dome is 83m high.
The interior of the church is decorated with marble sculptures, stained glass windows and mosaics (contains one of the world's largest mosaics depicting Christ with outstretched arms).
The author of numerous important plays, Alexandre Dumas fils was the illegitimate child of Marie-Catherine Labay, a dressmaker, and Alexandre Dumas, the author of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
The writer was legally recognized by his father in 1831 and moved to live with him.
Among his important novels, we can count La dame aux camelias (The Lady of the Camellias), inpired by a young courtesan met while living in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Alexandre Dumas fils died at Marly-le-Roi in 1895 and was buried in Cimetiere de Montmartre.
Sacre-Coeur is one of the premiere landmarks in Paris and unlike the Eiffel Tower which cannot really be seen east of the Marais (except from the Buttes Chaumont), this monument can be seen from all areas of Paris! She looks down on us from her lofty perch on top of Montmartre smiling down upon the city looking like a wedding cake or a sculpted cloud. Built in 1873 (consecrated in 1919) to make amends for the massacre during the Commune uprising, she was built in the Neo-Byzantine & neo-Romanesque styles by architect Paul Abadie.
My second trip we went inside to see the interior which was very light & airy in construct & mood with beautiful gold mosaics. One may climb to the top of the dome to obtain an exemplary view of Paris below!
Easiest & most scenic route:
Go past the Place des Abbesses (do you recognize this from the movie French Kiss?), walk east along rue la Vieuville, up the stairs of rue Drevet, up the stairs of rue du Calvaire. You'll come up the small square of Place du Calvaire which then becomes Place du Tertre. Go south a few feet on rue St-Eleuthere & then left or east on rue Azais.
Alternatively, you can take the Metro to Anvers station and trudge north on rue de Steinkerque, which is lined with souvenir shops & very crowded, up to Place St-Pierre. Then either walk up the stairs or take the funiculaire (price of one Metro ticket) to the basilique. Do yourself the huge favor of NOT EATING at Cafe le Ronsard, but this would be a nice place to stop for a drink with a view of the Carrousel.
Photos: Februay 2006 & November 2007
We were surprised how few people had paid the Euro5 entry fee (2008 price) to climb up the narrow and steep spiral staircases to the dome of the Sacré Coeur Basilica. It's possible to walk all round the base of the dome so you have a 360 degree view of the northern part of the city. It also means you get to see the outside of the church from a different (and photogenic) angle but, best of all, you can stop and take your time. There were only 3 other people up there with us and yet there was a constant stream of folk entering the main church.
Please be aware that there are 234 steps and the staircases are steep so the halfway break is a welcome opportunity to get your breath back. It really was worth it and made up for the fact that we couldn't get up the Notre Dame towers.
A kestrel came and perched on the building, sitting still and watchful for small prey it could swoop down on - a good vantage point indeed.
Please be aware our trip was in 2008 so the entrance fees may have gone up but I doubt whether the number of steps have!
Sacre Coeur for me is the most beautiful church in Paris. It is a very large white building with several domes of various sizes, and is built high on a hill making it visible from large parts of Paris.
The church itself came into being after the Prussina War in 1870. Two Catholic businessmen (who must have been loaded) made a pledge to build a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ (Sacre Coeur means Sacred Heart), should France be saved from the Prussian onslaught. Well I hate to spoil the anticipation, but yes of course France was spared. Work started in 1875, and was completed in 1914, but World War I and the German invasion of Paris meant that the church was consecrated until 1919.
If you arrive at the bottom of the hill, beware, there are a lot of steps to get to the top! There is a Funiculaire up the hill however, which can be taken from abbesses metro station.